Share Your Favorite Book on Multicultural Children’s Book Day

MCBookDay-21

January 27, 2014 is Multicultural Children’s Book Day!

Publication of Multicultural Books Declining

It’s a pretty well known fact that books that feature diverse characters and themes have proven to tap into children’s natural curiosity and to ignite their interest in reading. So, when I first heard about Multicultural Children’s Book Day, I jumped at the chance to be a part of it.

The creators, Valarie Budayr from Jump Into a Book and Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom, want to raise awareness for books that celebrate diversity and get more of them into classrooms and libraries. They say that 37% of the US population consists of people of color, but only 10 percent of children’s books that are published have diversity content.

That’s amazing to me, especially since studies show that children are motivated to read more books when they see themselves on the page.

When they were growing up, I was always looking for good books for my children to read that nurtured their identities as African Americans. I wanted them to get excited about adventures and mysteries that boys and girls who looked like them had, not just read about what a historical figure did as a child. (We read our share of those books too). So, encouraged by friends who told me to “write one myself” I dived back into the publishing world, self publishing a multicultural book that challenged stereotypes and raised awareness about children like mine.

Taj Cleans the Garage was the result. It’s a story about a little boy whose chore turns into an exciting adventure, and teaches him that money isn’t as important as doing the right thing. Michaela Nienaber did an outstanding job as the illustrator, filling each page with exploding color and action scenes.  You’ve got to see it (and buy it) to believe it!

On January 27, I am commemorating MCBDay by reading Taj to students at two schools. The students will bring their favorite multicultural book to school and talk about why they like it. I will also ask my friends and colleagues on Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin to share the name of their favorites too. You can do the same or something else to mark this day. Visit Valarie or Mia’s pages for more ideas and a great multicultural book list.

I am a big proponent of reading. It is the backstage pass to everything you want to do in life.We know that the more children read–especially about themselves–the better the odds are to close the achievement gap. With fourth grade reading scores measuring so low around the country, especially in minority communities, we can’t afford to accept the status quo about anything.

Some publishers say they don’t publish multicultural books because demand is low. Others say that the drastically changing book industry makes it too difficult to generate a return on investment. Whatever the reason, it is time for the publishing industry to catch up with reality: Content does matter. Maybe Multicultural Children’s Book Day will be the catalyst for change.

About

Valarie Budayr of Jump Into a Book is a best-selling children’s author of The Fox Diaries: The Year the Foxes Came to Our Garden and The Ultimate Guide to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. She is passionate about making kid’s books come alive and is proud to be a play and reading advocate. Valarie’s mission is to inspire children, families and communities to experience and create our world together while having fun.

Mia Wenjen from Pragmatic Mom is a Harvard grad with a love of children’s books (picture books through YA) and sneaking in teachable moments in art, science, math, foreign language and language arts. Mia is passionate about getting kids excited about reading and helping parents ensure that their child is successful at school.

Sponsors of Multicultural Children’s Book Day are Wisdom Tales Press, Lee & Low Books and Chronicle Books.

Taj Cleans the Garage by Renee Prewitt

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